30Nov08: Angelina Purpura
My Henro Experience
I came to Japan in 2005. When I arrived I knew very little about Kagawa, and nothing about the 88 Temple Pilgrimage. However during my first month here many people told me about it and I thought that it would be an amazing challenge. That November I had the opportunity to walk from Shido Temple (86) to Okuboji. It was a long and very difficult walk. I was proud of myself for having accomplished it and wanted to try again someday. So, I was grateful for the opportunity to walk to six more temples this year.
The walk from Tadotsu to Zentsuji was considerably easier, as the land is much flatter. Because I was not as tired and I did not have to focus all of my energy on making it up a steep mountain, I had more energy to take in my surroundings as we went. After three years in Japan the land has only become more beautiful to me. The countryside feels like home now, and yet I rarely stop to acknowledge it. I am always in a hurry, going to work, or meeting my friends, so the seasons change around me like a blur. But for one day I was able to move slowly, with my friends, and take in a truly spectacular autumn.
I urge everyone to try a walk like this, even if only once, to really take in Japan's natural splendor. I would recommend this to any foreign visitor, but I would especially suggest it to Japanese residents of Kagawa. Even if you don't have the time to walk to all 88 temples, you should at least take a short trip to visit the temples closest to you. Take a walk on a bright day and you will find yourself calmed in a way I cannot describe.
It is too easy to allow ourselves to become caught up in the hectic pace of daily life.
We need to take the time to honour ourselves and cherish the world around us.
Japan is a beautiful place to visit or live, so get out there and see it!